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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  June 7, 2012 4:00pm-6:00pm EDT

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mother's womb, detecting thousands of diseases, but at what cost? i'm wolf blitzer in chicago. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com bill clinton can certainly work wondzers out there on the campaign trail, but he can also work himself into trouble from time to time. first, he praised what he called the so-called sterling -- that's a quote, sterling business record of mitt romney right here on cnn. then he contradicted president obama seemingly by suggesting that the bush tax cuts should be extended even for the wealthiest americans. i just sat down with the former president here in chicago at the clinton global initiative, and i asked him about that. >> what i was saying yesterday,
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which is apparently not accurate, is that if this fiscal cliff comes to the president and the congress and the country before the election, he can't afford to give up his position and he shouldn't. that we'll have revenues to deal with this debt long term and asking those of us to pay taxes. i support that position. i always have, and -- but the republicans feel they can indirectly ratify it, so i was talking whether they needed to put off after the election, but they still have until the first of the year. so if they have until the first of the year, in any case, to deal with this there's no problem. they both have their positions, and to decide how to resolve it, but the election won't intervene and therefore, i regret that all of this stirring up has happened
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because that's what with i was thinking. i was under the impression that shooing might have to be done before the election. >> the president has flatly said he will veto any extension of the bush tax cut for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000. he's extended it and he says he won't do this again. >> i support this issue, and i think on the merits, upper income people will have to contribute to the long-term debt reduction. you get debt now, there are irthree thing, adequate revenue stream and what he's trying to say is that we've got to have all three, and so i support his position, but we really -- i'm very sorry about what happened yesterday. i thought something had to be done on the fiscal cliff before the election.
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>> all right. the full interview coming up at the top of the hour at our 5:00 p.m. eastern hour. we go through a lot of these issues including some of the comments he's made about mitt romney at bain capital, but just a little flavor of what we're talking about. i want to dig deeper from what we just heard from the former president of the united states. candy crowley is joining us right now. chief political correspondent, the host of cnn's "state of the union." it's not every day, candy, that you hear a former president of the united states apologize and say that he regrets what he said earlier, but he was up front. he are he fsz. i would love to hear the conversation that goes back and forth and he seems to be on the same page with president obama and the fact that most people don't think any of this will happen before the election, they've thought that for some time so it's interesting to me
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that the former president didn't know that because i think it's been something that's been mentioned over and over again, but nonetheless, he saw the need to get back on the same page with the president for whatever reason and clarified his remarks and apologized. you know, it's bill clinton and he moves on and so will the obama re-election campaign. >> and we had a whole other exchange about how some are suggesting -- some of his critics are suggesting this is vintage bill clinton and he's actually in his own way trying to undermine, for whatever reason, the president and his re-election chances. you won't be surprised that he totally dismisses that notion and you hear these point especially given some of the bitterness when hillary was running for the presidential nomination against barack obama. >> i actually don't know what the rationale is, but i
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certainly agree that bill clinton is a man that can be vur careful at what he says and he's also sharp about what's going on. when he makes a mistake, it seems very out of character for things. here's my guess. when he said that mitt romney had a sterling private career in business, he meant it. i think he probably also feels at some level that it's the wrong time to cut taxes -- i mean, to raise taxes at any income level. i think that's what he said. on the other hand, the only thing that this former president really needs to do is say i support president obama. he's the guy i'm going to vote for, and you should, too, and he's doing that. i think bill clinton still remains a very powerful advocate for president obama even though he has to come out 24 hours and saying something that he
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apologized. all he has to do is i support president obama and it might help folks who are re-thinking their vote at this point. >> he backed up his words and he said he'll do fund-raising events for the president and make sure he does some campaigning over these next five months as well. once again, the full interview will air in the 5:00 p.m. eastern hour. you'll hear what the former president of the united states has to say on a whole range of issues and we'll talk about personal and presidential politics. we also talk about what's going on in czechoslovakia at the full initiative. computer attacks on iran. a presidential hit-list. the bomb now investigating a
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cove ert operations. there's outrage from both sides of the aisle on capitol hill. let's bring in our correspondent dana bash. some dramatic developments on this story. what's the latest? >> reporter: the latest is the director of national int intelligence james clapper came to capitol thoil brief members of congress to find out what he knows about these intelligence leads and afterwards, senior members came out together and these are very partisan times in congress so that in and of itself was very telling. an extraordinary show of bipartisanship intended to signal the seriousness of intelligence leaks. >> to have all four of those come forward today and talk about the severity of these leaks i hope sensdz a very clear message about how dangerous this has become. >> reporter: one by one the top republicans and democrats at the house senate intelligence
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committees described the need for new legislation to stop what they call a cascade of leaks that threatens national security of people's lives. some examples, an a.p. report about a thwarted al qaeda bomb plot and "the new york times" report on drone attacks and an attack on iran. >> it hurts our abilities it with our allies to have them work scombus get information. it hurts us to recruit assets to give us intelligence information that will allow us to protect our citizens. >> the white house has its own preliminary investigation. >> the agencies were directed to expand the scope of classified information they gave to the press. we none some cases someone from a segment of the media was present in a classified setting. >> reporter: cnn was later told rogers was referring to the film
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showed on the raid on osama bin laden. it was politically motivated to help the president look good and republicans were more circumspect. >> do you believe knowing what you know about the leaks that they are politically motivated to try to help president obama? >> i'm not going to pre-judge what the fbi's charged with the responsibility of doing. we've been through this before in the bush administration. wherever the responsibility falls out, that's where it's going to be and if it's in the administration, fine. if it's not in the administration, fine. >> reporter: five months before the election day, everything is political and democrats raising questions about leaks from anywhere in the administration could hurt. >> do you have any concern that by making such a big deal by leaks in the obama administration, not the white house, but the obama administration that this is goi
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going to be finger-pointing at anybody in the white house? >> this is not finger-pointing at anybody. we have a problem and we want to stop that problem. we want to put changes in the bill, but dana, this has to stop. when people say they don't want to work with the united states because they can't trust us to keep a secret, that's serious. >> reporter: and the white house insists these leaks are not politically motivated and to suggest otherwise is grossly irresponsible. for these lawmakers they may agree on the need to do something about it, and they don't agree on the kind of investigation that should occur. there should be an independent investigation, an independent council, of course, but she's not so sure because that could take years and we don't have years. one last note, as we speak the fbi director robert mueller is here on capitol hill talking about the investigations they're
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doing into a couple of these leaks we talked about. >> lots of stuff happening. we'll dig deeper. dana, thanks very much. could stepped-up lie detector tests be used for some, some government employees to deter classified information. cnn national security producer susan kelly broke the story for us. tell us what you know. >> james clapper was up on the hill talking about members of the committee that we just heard dana talking about. he kind of laid out his own ideas for getting tough or leaks and making it easier moving forward to find the source of leaks like this, and what he was talking about doing was expanding the counterintelligence polygraph and that was something given to government employees that hold a better clearance level and this goes across government agencies besides this overcities and give
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people the polygraph that may not have questions added to it along the way such as have you ever passed information you were not supposed to pass to a journalist? >> that would certainly help narrow the focus. >> i guess even the threat of these polygraphs would deter some sensitive information from being leaked by individual, but specifically, who would be s subject to these lie detector tests? >> it would be the 16 intelligence agencies and it would go beyond that, too. it would be a government ride initiative. if you have people, for example, who work in the state department who work with information like this, sensitive information they would be qualified to take this polygra polygraph. >> the interesting thing to look at is when it smop stops.
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with the political accusations being batted around this isn't something that would help in that sphere, but it would help in terms of being able to target across several government agencies who might be telling the truth and who might not be. >> sensitivities galore here. thanks very much. so is president obama allowing the leaks to score political points? i'll ask his chief campaign strategist david axelrod. he's standing by to join me live in chicago. >> also, the deadly spiral spiral in serbia, and chaos in the denny's restaurant. customers flee as a man opens fire and all of it is caught on tape. ♪...
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jack cafferty is here with "the cafferty file." wolf, wisconsin's recall election could be a sign of things to come for unions and the democrats. republican governor scott walker's victory is a big deal and here's why. walker recognized the financial path we're on. he did something about it and he prevailed. despite howling from liberal critics, voters in wisconsin stood by their governor and his effort to limit bargaining powers for workers and if wisconsin gets it, maybe there's hope for the rest of us. consider this, two of california's biggest cities are backing works against unions, san diego and san jose voted overwhelming this week to cut the pensions of city government workers in order to save money, and if it can happen in california, the bluest of the blue states maybe it can happen anywhere, like washington, d.c. -- pardon me. even californians understand
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that the cost of government pensions are killing us. according to cnnmoney.com, the pension gap for police, firefighters, teachers, and other city, county and state employees could be as high as $3 trillion and that doesn't include the cost of medical care. meanwhile, wisconsin's governor walker says the recall results mean that it's now competitive in his state come november. wisconsin's a state president obama won by 14 points in 2008 and it's not just wisconsin. other big union states may no longer be an automatic checkoff for president obama. for example, former pennsylvania governor ed rendell is suggesting that his state is, quote, definitely in play, unquote. so here's the question. what impact could the wisconsin recall election have come november? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on our blog or go to the situation room's facebook page. wolf? >> all right, jack.
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thank you. meanwhile, ominous developments unfolding in syria right now. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room." what's the latest? >> united nations observers in syria came under small arms fire as they tried to reach the scene of the latest massacre. it prompted a blunt and dire warning from the u.n. special envoy to syria, kofi annan. >> today, despite the acceptance of the six-point plan and the deployment of the courageous mission of united nations observers to syria, i must be frank and contend that the plan is not being implemented. if things do not change, the future is likely to be one of brutal repression, massacres, sectarian violence and eventual-out civil war. all syrians will lose.
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>> and take a look at the dramatic video showing what appears to be a government tank being destroyed by a rocket-propelled grenade being fired by opposition forces. you can hear a voice exclaiming god is great. cnn cannot independently confirm the authenticity of this video. more than 80 lawsuits against the national football league have been bundled into one federal case. it accuses the league of failing to acknowledge and address risk of brain injury associated with the sport and fail toing form players about those risks. the lawsuit is filed on behalf of 2,000 nfl players. a league spokesman says there is no merit to the allegation. police in oklahoma city are looking for the man in this surveillance video in this denny's restaurant. he was fighting with a woman inside and when it got physical, a restaurant worker and a customer forced him out of the door.
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he returned to the restaurant and started firing, sending customers fleeing. they have not identified the gunmen. wolf? >> wow, what a story that is. lisa, thanks very much. troubling polls. the fund-raising race and we'll talk about that and a lot more with obama's chief campaign strategist, david axelrod is here in chicago with me. he's standing by lye. the interview coming up next. ( whirring and crackling sounds ) man: assembly lines that fix themselves. the most innovative companies are doing things they never could before, by building on the cisco intelligent network. our cloud is made of bedrock. concrete. and steel.
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let's get back to the bipartisan fury where a series of intelligence leaks and the house intelligence committee chairman said that the media, the media had been allowed into classified meetings. joining me is david axelrod, the chief strategist for the obama re-election campaign. nice to be in your hometown. >> yes. >> like rmike rogers is suggesting very pointedly, like others, that the obama administration is leaking information to help get the president reelected. i'll play a clip for you. >> they have material suggesting that they had classified information they gave to the press. we know in some cases someone from a segment of the media was
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klaas present in a classified setting. >> all right. that's a pretty sharp statement. john mccain is making statements along those lines and lindsay graham and others. what do you say? >> i say that's nonsense. this administration has no interest in leaking classified information. we don't want to see it leaked from capitol hill and we don't want to see it leaked from the administration. it's not helpful. the fact is there are leaks and sometimes we're confronted with those leaks and we're asked about those leaks. that's a different situation, but i wholly discount that. >> you totally reject this notion that there have been these authorized leaks of classified information in order to help bolster the president's chances to make him look strong. >> the intimation is that the story is helpful to the president. >> which story is that? >> that the stories that have been written have been helpful to the president. i'll let other people judge that, but we're not the source
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of those stories. >> and this notion that john mccain wants a special council like ken starr to come in and start investigating. >> i think nobody benefits from leaks of classified material. it shouldn't happen. we would welcome anybody to look at anything. >> let's talk about the formy president of the united states, bill clinton. my full interview will air in the next hour with him, but he's now apologized. he's expressed regret and said he didn't fully understand the nature of the question when he said the bush tax cuts even for the wealthiest americans should be temporarily extended even though the president said they shouldn't be extended any longer. >> i'm not expecting an apology from bill clinton. i have deep respect for bill clinton. they should listen to bill clinton. bill clinton was the president in the early '90s who said we have to do something about the deficits and it will mean the wealthy will have to pay a
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little more and not one republican in congress supported him and he got it done. we were left in a surplus and in the next decade we had two unfunded wars and a medicaid prescription program and they left for this president, huge deficits and an economic crisis. they should listen to president clinton. he was right back in the '90s and we should be investing in education, research and development and energy and the kinds of things that will grow our economy, not going back to the policies of the last decade. >> but did he cause the re-election campaign some heartburn by suggesting that mitt romney's sterling reputation at bain capital coming on the heels of those ads. >> the question he's answered, wolf, is he qualified? >> he's call qualified to be president. is he qualified to call himself
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the economic oracle that he does. when you run a business that doesn't that doesn't reflect that and his record in massachusetts was so poor in terms of job creation. that's what we're questioning, not whether he has the technical qualifications. >> but you're not suggesting as bill clinton did that he did have a sterling reputation. >> i think he had a great record for making money for himself and his partners. he did not have a great record on job creation. when you take companies from bankruptcy and walk away fr with millions of dollars and the creditors are left holding the bag and that may look good in terms of balance sheets and it's not right. there were some companies that he helped establish, ports authority. >> he made minor investments in his company and walked away with him with a profit and later on they created jobs and they
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loaded them with debt and he profited from that, and certainly the workers didn't, the communities didn't and the economy didn't. >> there was a lot of dialogue between you and president clinton and his aides to make sure that you guys got on the same page? >> here's what i know. bill clinton understands what it takes to grow this economy. he understands we can't cut our way to prosperity. he understands that we have to bring these deficits down in a responsible way and invest in those things that we need to grow, education, innovation, infrastructure and that's what he's been preaching all over this country and there's no separation and they have a good understanding of what needs to happen with this economy. >> how worried are you, if you are that the romney campaign raised more money last month than the obama campaign. >> this is sort of to be expected, wolf -- >> in 2004 john kerry, once he sealed the nomination had two
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months where he outraised president obama because you picked up money that you couldn't raise from republicans supporting other candidates in the primary so we anticipated this. we'll be the first president to be outspent not because of what romney's raising and you have things like the coke brothers saying they'll spent $4 million and the republican party spent in total. >> $400 million they'll leverage in this race of their own, through their secret organizations, the ones that don't disclose. that's a source of concern. it should be a source of concern to everyone. it has broader implications in the election, but in terms of what happened in the fund-raising, no, i'm not surprised. i am surprised that 98% of our
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donors were under 250, and it speaks to the nature of the two campaigns. >> one vital question. this new poll that came out, i don't know if you saw it 46% romney and 45% obama in a state where the auto industry is so critical, the president salvaged the auto industry. >> there are several polls that had this race in double digits. there will be plenty of polls and i'm not going to react to one of them and i'd bet you $10,000 we'll win the state of michigan, but i'm not, so i won't. >> good to be with you in chicago. there are worries and developments in the case of an american right now, an american being held in a cuban prison and it's a story we've been following closely here in "the situation room." the latest details coming up next. also, a new breakthrough can reveal the entire genetic breakthrough of a baby still in its mother's womb, detecting thousands of diseases, but at what cost? as a culinary manager i make sure our guests
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there are some troubling developments in the case of an american man imprisoned in cuba right now. i had an exclusive phone interview with alan gross just last month, but now there is new information emerging. cnn's brian todd spoke to allen gross about it. what's going? what did you find out? >> reporter: not good news from allen gross' wife. i caught up with her at a hearing in capitol hill. her husband's health has slid dramatically since you spoke to him a month ago. >> in early may, allen gross told wolf blitzer he lost about 100 pounds while inside a cuban prison, but was hanging in there. >> my hip has a problem, but otherwise, i'm not in bad shape. >> reporter: here's a difference a month makes. >> reporter: can you give us an update on his condition right now? >> he's doing very poorly. he's in very bad, chronic pain
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and he can't get out of bed, and it takes 15 minutes to start walking and his hips are clicking and he's much weaker because he can't exercise anymore. >> reporter: judy gross says her husband his prostate issues and might have emphysema and has broken a tooth. >> reporter: is he getting treatment? >> i sent him medication for the arthritis. no, he's not getting any treatment. >> reporter: we were unable to get a response from the cuban interest in washington. in may, a cuban official said this about gross' treatment. >> we have guaranteed for him a good treatment as he, himself, told you he's in good shape. he receives specialized medical treatment balanced meals. >> reporter: gross, an american, has been imprisoned in cuba since 2009, charged with
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smuggling illegal equipment and he is not a spy and is being held unjustifiably. >> mr. gross worked for a development group that was helping cubans principally in their small, jewish community in cuba to have access to the internet. >> reporter: judy gross told me there has been no efforts to get her husband released despite considerable fallout in washington. robert menendez is hammering the state department. >> you permit the daughter of raul castro to get a visa, to come to the united states, to speak out against the united states, to speak about somehow justifying the dictatorship inside of cuba and yet you permit an american citizenship to castro jails. >> reporter: a state department official responded. >> those cubans were allowed to come to the united states to speak openly because in our
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country they are able to do so despite my not agreeing at all with the statements of mariela castro, obviously. >> reporter: there's also fallout over a judge allowing one of five cubans imprisoned in the u.s. on espionage charges to visit an ailing relative in cuba, while alan gross has not been able to visit his 90-year-old mother in the u.s. who is very ill. that cuban detainee has finished his sentence and is supposed to stay in the u.s. on probation until 2014. wolf? >> brian, do you have any update on his mother's condition? she's, when? 90 years old in texas. >> reporter: that's right. gross' mother has terminal lung cancer. judy gross told me the mother is very weak and is feeling pain she didn't feel before and she told me her husband is concerned that his mother will pass away before he gets to say good-bye. >> sad story, indeed, and we'll
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new, scientific developments are giving doctors and parents some amazing new insight into the genetic makeup of unborn children, but the testing is not only very expensive, it's also very controversial. once again, cnn's lisa sylvester is joining us and she's looking into the story for us. explain, lisa, what's going on here? >> wolf, first off, the research is out of the university of washington. geneticists were able to map the
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genome makeup with 97% accuracy, but the question is now, if the parents can predict if the child can develop a medical condition will that lead to preselection and possible abortion? ultrasounds can tell the babies a lot, how big the baby is, how the pregnancy is progressing, whether it's a boy or a girl, but now the new test can reveal the entire genetic blueprint. it's done by taking a blood test from the mother and a saliva test from the father as early as the first try midwester. it can detest chromosome abnormalities like down syndrome, but the new breakthrough testing can detect 3,000 diseases, highlighting genetic mutations in a baby's genome code, such as if the child is predisposed to cancer. >> a normal person has two
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copies of every chapter or healthy person. detecting down syndrome with this approach is akin to trying to determine if there's an extra cope of an entire chapter whereas, what we've tried to do is to enable the technology to even pick up typos and single words on a single ray. >> reporter: an associate professor at the university of washington heads up that team. right now the process is costly. to apply in the real world, testing would cost $50,000 and it raises a host of ethical questions. will it lead to positive selection in parents seeking certain traits in their unborn babies. the national right to life committee is in the right to science. the only question is whether or not that life is worthy of protection and the answer is those lives should not be diss membered for any reason and certainly not because they're disabled.
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>> some of the mutations is definitive, such as the child might be born with the disability. the genome map only that the fetus has a greater likelihood of developing a disorder. this kind of test where there are hundreds of thousands of genetic mutations. its unclear whether or not any of them or some of them will have clinical or medical indications. >> reporter: but the implications are immense. if doctors know ahead of time a child will develop a certain medical condition it can lead to early intervention. >> you can imagine scenarios in which this thing is abused. it's important to think about the ethical challenges that might arise, but we may be putting the cart a little bit ahead of the horse here. >> and you can read more on the journal science translational medicine. the cost of genetic sequencing has come down tremendously in the last several years.
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this stuff that was more in the realm of science fiction is becoming more reality, wolf. >> thanks very much. his daughter chelsea, the race for the white house, what should the u.s. do in syria. i spoke about that and a lot more with the former president of the united states bill clinton. my one-on-one interview with president clinton here in chicago at the global clinton initiative. that's coming up at the top of the hour. [ male announcer ] count the number of buttons in your car. now count the number of buttons on your tablet.
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>> a mixed day on wall street. the dow up 36 point with the nasdaq and the s&p off slightly. the morning rally was tempered when federal reserve chairman ben bernanke dashed hopes for more economic slim stimulus, saying the fed was ready to act, but is holing off for now. here is his assessment. >> it appears poised to continue overcoming pace over coming quarters supported by a monetary policy. in particular, increases in household spending have been relatively well sustained. income growth has remained quite modest, but the recent decline in energy prices should provide some off-setting lift to real purchasing power. >> cnn's erin burnett is going
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out front of the story. erin, bernanke also gave congress some grief over the gridlock up on capitol hill and the uncertainty about taxes and the policies that they cause. what was your sense? >> wolf, i've heard him give a lot of these and he gives the prepared remarks and takes questions. he had a very clear message that he wanted to make and there are two things to take away. one, he doesn't want the federal reserve to do more. he doesn't think we're quite at that point which is important because we've had weak labor numbers, so he doesn't think it's that dire of a situation where he needs to act. his part, wolf, being $2.3 billion of additional money he's thrown into the system to help the economy getting better. he's saying, now, congress, it's you that needs to do the job. he referred to the fiscal cliff just in the beginning of next year. that's just for next year with the unemployment benefits going
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away. so firmly putting it in the hands of congress, wolf, and i think that's very important. i also think it's important that the market may be disappointed today a bit. it was rallying and then he said i'm not going do anything. it fell back, but that should be interpreted that's a sign of strength. he doesn't need to come out and say i'll do something yet. and he doesn't think the situation is more dire which is a more positive take from his testimony away. >> good point, although he's under no illusions. the chances of congress doing anything substantive between now and november are very, very slim. i think everybody agrees on that. i'll have more on this story and all of the day's news, "erin burnett out front." jack cavery is back with "the cafferty file." what impact could the wisconsin recall election have in november? >> it places liberals on notice. president obama will lose in
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november in a landslide that will make jimmy carter's loss look like a win. when the unions turn against you, when your own party turn against you you know it's time to panic. as the republicans strip you of retirement benefits it will empower the democrats to re-elect obama. these unions created cadillac pension plans that they would never be able to pay for so they'll be reduced. mack in michigan writes you are grossly estimating the intelligence and the attention span of the voting public. 40 days from now, voters would have moved on and they won't believe there was an election in wisconsin. the big guns haven't been cut loose and that is when opinions will be bought and sold. jennifer writes, i haven't a clue, but it's about time someone went after the unions. martha writes, likely not very much. what happens between now and the election especially with the economy is likely to have a far better impact. and roguers i can't wait to cut
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pensions for congress. i'll vote for that. if you want to read more on this go to the blog, cnn.com/caffertyfile or to our post on "the situation room's" facebook page. >> thank you. we're only minutes away from my one-on-one in-depth interview with the president of the united states bill clinton. we'll speak about the uproar he caused when he agreed to back extending the bush tax cuts including for the wealthiest americans. what's he saying now? stand by for that. also, the surprise culprit in the $400 million fire on a u.s. nuclear submarine. [ woman ] my husband, hank, was always fun.
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a new clue to a fire aboard a u.s. nuclear submarine. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other stories in "the situation room." what's going on? >> the navy says a vacuum cleaner may have sparked a fire on "thethe "uss miami." damage is estimated at $400 million. there were no torpedos on the sub at the time. more options for iphone fans. virgin mobile is the latest wireless carrier to announce it will carry the iphone. it is the second to offer a prepaid plan. they were exclusive to at&t, but since last year, six companies have started offering service for the apple devices. and take a look at this video from china where a toddler wandered on to a balcony and wound up with his head stuck in
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the railing four stories up. a man risked his life walking along a narrow ledge and he managed to set the child free. what a hero that guy is, wolf. >> he certainly is to have that little kid and the man that everyone is just fine. thank you, lisa. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, my candid, one-on-one interview with the former president of the united states bill clinton. just ahead, what he says he's sorry for and why he doesn't have to be hostile mitt romney and what chelsea got for him. then bill clinton tells me mitt romney's policies would be very bad for this country's policies. the romney campaign has a chance to respond to that and much more. that's coming up this hour, as
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well and new u.n. fears. syria could be on the brink of a full-blown civil war. just one day after reports of yet another deadly massacre. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in chicago. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com up first this hour, my interview with the former president bill clinton, and the mastermind we rarely get to see. just a short while ago i sat down here in chicago with the formal president at the clinton global initiative and he began apologizing repeatedly about the comments he made about the so-called bush tax cuts continuing even temporarily for the wealthiest americans,
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comments that seemingly that contradicted president obama. >> mr. president, thanks very much for allowing us to come here to your cgi, once again, the clinton global initiative. we'll talk about that. i know you have major initiatives. you want to help 4 million americans as a result of what you will do today and tomorrow. we'll talk specifically of what you have in mind, but let's get to the issues right now. the economy and jobs. that's what you're talking about here at the cgi. you caused a stir suggesting that you would be open to temporarily extending the bush tax cuts even for the wealthiest american in that cnbc interview. you backed off a little bit later, but where do you stand right now if necessary, to keep the economy robust? >> first of all, i don't think that's necessary to keep the economy robust, and what i was saying yesterday, which is apparently not accurate, is that
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if this fiscal cliff comes to the president and the congress and the country before the election, he can't afford to give up his position and he shouldn't that we'll have to have new revenues to deal with this debt long-term, and asking those of us in higher income groups to pay taxes. i support that position. i always have, and the republicans may not afford to indirectly ratify, so i was talking about whether they needed to put it off after the lech, but they still have until the first of the year. now if they have until the first of the year in any case, to deal with this there's no problem. they both have their positions to decide how to resolve it, but the first thing here, but the election won't intervene and therefore i regret that all of this stirring up was happening and that's what i was thinking about. i was under the impression that something had to be done before
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the election. >> as you know, the president has flatly said he would veto any extension of the bush tax cuts -- >> i know he has. >> for individuals making more than $200 and families making more than $200,000 a year. he's extended it last time and he says he won't do it again. >> i support his position, and i think on the merits, upper income people will have to contribute to the long-term debt reduction. you get to debt now with three things, economic growth and appropriate spending restraint and adequate revenue stream, and what he's trying to say is that we've got to have all three, and so i support his position, but we really were -- i'm sorry sorry about what happened yesterday. i thought something had to be done on the fiscal cliff before the election. apparently nothing has to be done until the first of the year, so i think he should just
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stick with his position and negotiate when possible. >> during the lame duck session after the election if he's re-election or if romney wins that's when they'll have to deal with the bush tax cuts because all of them including the middle class and they'll go back to what existed during your administration -- >> and those rates, the problem with that is one, i think they should be extended for the bottom percent is that median income after inflation is lower than it was when they left office. so those people who would be affected by that, many, many of them have had no income increases in a decade so you really would have a contractionary economic impact. it would be very bad for the economy if those folks in the
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98% had to shoulder a tax increase. >> i just want to be precise. what you're saying is you would not extend the tax cuts, and you would go back to the race that existed even though some exists say that could slow down economic growth during a long time. >> yes, i think if you phase it in slowly, so both plans recommend you don't have too much bite on the front end that will actually help us long term and keep in mind, the congress in saying this has to account for the fact that we have 4.3 million more private sector jobs, but we've lost 600,000 private sector jobs in part because they declined to pass the jobs plan which would have
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given money to states and localities to not lay off the teachers and firefighters and police officers that have been laid off. >> on this issue, to move on, there's no deadline between you and -- >> no, i was under the impression that they had to do something before the election. once i realized that nothing had to be done until the first of the year, i support his position. i supported extending them last year, but i think his position is the right one and necessary for us to be in a comprehensive deal. >> the other issue that caused obama folks some heartburn was when you told harvey weinstein that mitt romney had a sterling reputation out of bain capital and that he was qualified to be president and this coming after their ads and the obama campaign ads going after him on his record at bain capital. >> those are two different things. you can be a successful business
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person and you can be governor of a state and be 35 years old and by definition you qualify to be president. >> you said his qualifications were good. >> but in the same sentence. >> that's correct. >> very cleverly in the same sentence i said he shouldn't be elect because his ideas and policies i don't think are good for america. >> and you later said it would be calamitous, and that's going pretty far. >> if you're elected and if he implemented the policies that he advocated. keep in mind from my point of view the best thing he did as governor was to sign the health care bill which he's renounced. >> he hasn't renounced his health care bill, he's renounced the president's health care bill. >> but if you look at it, that's splitting a pretty thin hair, and the experience in
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massachusetts proves that if you take the sands out of people's shifts and costs and it will slow down inflation and we can get the cost better, but that's what he's running on. he's running on repealing the president's bill, on repealing the commitment to clean energy which has been a big part of our getting manufacturing jobs back in america today. basically a budget that every unbiased person says i'll have $2 trillion in debt, and on having austerity now and higher unemployment rates now and bigger deficits which is exactly the reverse of what we should be doing. so if he actually implemented what he says, it would be very, very bad for the american economy, that's what i think. >> just to wrap this up. you and the president are both on the same page and is there
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daylight on any of these issues? some of you have said the current president is undermined by the former president for whatever reason. >> in 2008 when he ran for president and defeated hillary in the primaries, i did 40 e have notes for him. 40 in the election. in 2012 i've done major fund rais ers, and i have spoken to people repeatedly and he's done a very good job under very trying circumstances and better than some people give him credit for, and i am strongly committed to his re-election, and i just regret that -- my instinct is -- you know me, i don't think i should have to say bad things about governor romney personally to disagree with him politically. the fact that i had a success with a business person, does not
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mean that he should be this book and for some reason ware working here. >> you can be in business and you can only be successful as president if the shareholders and employees, the customers and the communities do well. all of the constituencies of market economics. >> i covered your presidency for years. you worked with big business. >> i did, and i still do. >> you're doing that here at the cge. you have major representatives and fortune 500 companies and people here doing important work, but the criticism of the president is that he's alienated some of these big business types, wall street, saying some things that weren't very favorable and many of them you supported in 2008, you're running away from now. >> if you look at the tax policies and regulatory policies
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that were actually pursued, they were either necessary and we had to have a higher cap roll, and you can't have people taking the kind of risks that we're taking, but he has -- even now he's got another small business tax cut pending before congress as part of his economic plan for people hiring new employes. >> i don't think much will happen with any of these initiatives. >> but he's had this out there for more than a year. if you look at his record as opposed to what people say, with what the republicans say about him, i think he has been, you know, quite moderate. he's met with the jobs council and with building retrofits. i'm quite impressed with the range of business people on this
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council. he's honestly interested in their opinions and inputs on what their policy suggestions are. i don't buy that he's anti-business. he has some differences from people who believe that the financial crisis that the american people are still bearish because of it. these things don't justify any increased requirements of oversight. i think they do. i think we know about capitalism trying to implode and this will be good for the markets and it will be good for the economy to minimize that kind of risk. >> all right. we'll have much more of my you introo with the former president of the united states bill clinton and that was just part one. straight ahead, part two. he calls out mitt romney for not standing up to some members of his own republican party, and a
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senior adviser to the romney campaign will be joining us live to respond to that and much more. stand by for our news this hour. and to syria, as well. relentless shelling. u.n. observers fired upon as they arrive at the scene of a massacre. we'll have a report live from the scene and all of that coming up on "the situation room." look at the car! my dad's gonna kill me dude... [ male announcer ] the security of a 2012 iihs top safety pick. the volkswagen passat. that's the power of german engineering. but last year my daughter was checking up on me. i wasn't eating well. she's a dietitian
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about to show you are extremely difficult to watch. they are certainly not suitable for children to see, but we're going to show you these pictures because we feel it's very important to show at least edited versions of the images to convey the extent and the brutality of the syrian crackdown against civilians and civilians in opposition to the regime in certain parts of the country right now. let's bring in cnn's arwa damon who has been covering this story for us. arwa, it's heartbreaking when you look at these pictures, but tell our viewers here in the united states and around the world what's going on right now. >> reporter: it most certainly is, wolf, and these are images of the aftermath of what activists say was a massacre carried out by assad military forces and these pro-government gangs that effectively act as a
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hit squad for the assad regime. the images show the youngest and most innocent of the casualties, children, some of them are wrapped in blankets, others shrouded in the white burial cloth. some of them have little bits of paper with their names written on them. they're four children from one family alone at least according to the voice narrating this footage and they're also, you'll be able to see what looked like chunks of ice, bottles that were filled with water, frozen and other makeshift ways to try to keep the bodies from decomposing. these specific children's mother and uncle also said to have been killed in this attack. this village is tiny, wolf. it's no more than a cluster of homes and at least 77 people are alleged to have been massacred. that is around half of this village's population and the opposition is saying that this most certainly is just going to
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heighten the sectarian tensions because it's a predominantly sunni area, and those that carried out the brutal attacks are from neighboring villages. the government denying that it was involved and saying it responded to a cry from residents so that they could be saved from a terrorist gang thaft holding them under siege. they say that's yet government troops went in and effectively liberated this area from this terrorist cell, wolf. >> what heartbreaking pictures, i've got to tell you, it is so, so difficult to look at those images. arwa, thank you very much. former president bill clinton was in the white house when hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in rwanda. his advice to president obama when it comes to what's going on in syria right now. listen to this. >> assad ought to go, but it's hard when the russians want you
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the former president bill clinton is certainly never afraid to say what's on his mind, even if it might make fellow democrats apparently uncomfortable. we spoke about that a little bit more. here's part two of my interview. >> what do you think about mitt romney? >> i told you what i thought. i've said many times i had a good encounter with him when he tried to save the a per cor program, and i don't think i have to have personal hostility with him to disagree with his
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ideas and i listened closely to what the republicans said in the primary and to mr. norquist saying it would be fine with him if governor romney got elected because all he had to do was sign his name out of the tea party house. it's troubling to me because i think that if you look at greece. if you look at the united kingdom and if you look at where the world is today, austerity and unemployment now and then we'll balloon the debt later and have higher interest rates and we'll never recover, that's basically what we can pay for. it's the same platform of the eurozone which the europeans are trying to get out of. >> you were very critical. you didn't mention him by name, mitt romney, but you suggested in that speech and the fund-raising event with the president that no serious republican, including the presidential nominee, stood up and complained when congressman
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allen west, tea party favorite said flatly, between 78 and 81 members democrats and the house of representatives were communists. >> outside of china vietnam, north korea and a few minor parties, i don't know if there were 78 or 81 communists left in the world. >> so what was your point, though? that serious republicans weren't disagreeing with him? >> my point was if the president says anything, that they parse it so there could be this criticism and then the guy stands up and says that 78 to 81 of his colleagues are literally communists, members of the communist party is what he said and the leadership says nothing about it, the president says
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nothing about it. at least i can tell the press wasn't very concerned about it, and i just don't think there should be a standard here. this is not a full -- this is not a level playing field here. there are serious ideas at stake, and if you look at what we do here at the global initiative, what works is what we're trying to do here. we may not work miracle, but we will get something done. networks with cooperation get something done in the real world and it is in constant conflict and we will calm down and listen to each other and treat each other with respect and listen to what we can do together. in the mean whieshlgs i think it's important to get on ideologically driven policy which will cause us more trouble. >> quick question is syria. i remember going with you to
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rwanda in 1998 and you acknowledged then that it was a horrible mistake. you heard reports of what was going on and you didn't do anything. you regretted that deeply. what about now? what should the president -- what should the united states be doing about the slaughter going on in syria? >> well, first of all, i do. i don't think we could have saved everybody in rwanda, but 800,000 people were killed in about nine days. >> mostly with machetes. >> yes, mostly with machetes and war is fast in this world and it would have taken a lot to get here, and i wish i would have sent some troops there, and i thought if the world had acted quickly we could have saved at least a third of those we lost, so i regret that. on bosnia, i was ready to go in '93, but as you remember i tried
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very hard in sending my secretary of state to europe and tried to get with the french and the british and germans and they take two years. this is different. >> why is syria different? >> well, they're all different. the facts are on the ground. i feel it's pretty clear to me that the people who were with involved in this last slaughter were killed, if not by government forces with people who were with their knowledge and there was something to help the opposition forces get some more arms, for example, but this is not like libya where these mass stretches of land, you could bomb the opposition forces of hamas and you had a
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well-organized fighting force trying to topple the syrian government. fareed zacharia wrote an interesting article about how tough it was and it's hard to get effective policy because the russians are still defending the syrian government so it's a very frustrating thing, but i believe that what the united states and its allies are trying to do now by tightening the embargo and the sanctions and trying to persuade the russians to come over to the other side and cut them off from arms, that may be about all we can do right now with a reasonable chance of affecting the outcome. it is not morally satisfying when you find out another hundred people have been slaughtered, but i think the president and the secretary of
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state are dealing with an extremely difficult situation that the case for mail tear action now is harder to make than it was in r wanda or it was in libya or in bosnia, for that matter. it's a very difficult thing, but when they have a coalescing of the opposition forces which will make it look like there's an achievable force option, but i don't think we're there yet. i'm sure they're looking at all of the things and contingency plans and looking at it, but assad ought to go, but it's hard when the russians lock you in action and continue to supply arms. that's why hillary's still working on that on this trip. >> more of the interview coming up. the former president also speaks
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about his own health. new information on what he shares about what he's eating and characteristics he thinks he's passed on to his daughter chelsea who is here at the clinton global initiative. that part of the interview will air later this hour. also, what about mitt romney's platform? does what does the president have to say about that? we'll get reaction from what we heard of the former president from the senior adviser from the romney campaign. he's standing by live. we'll get his reaction from boston and a lot more. that's all coming up. great shot.
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you've been watching my in-depth interview in "the situation room" not only with bill clinton, but david axelrod. let's get more reaction to both of those interviews from eric fern strom joining us from boston. thanks very much for coming in. i want to give you a chance to respond to david axelrod said in "the situation room." i'll play a little clip. i think you had a great record for making money for himself and his partners. he did not have a record for job creation, when you walk away for millions of dollars while the workers are left holding the bag
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and the creditors are left holding the bag, that may look good in terms of economic policy and it's not right. >> he was talking about mitt romney when he was head of bain capital. let me give you a chance to respond to axelrod. >> thank you for having me on. >> i can tell you that governor romney was proud of his business record and by the way, so was bill clinton. he called his record in the private sector sterling. he gave a speech regarding free enterprise and he said it's not just an ideal. governor romney wants to do what he can to promote a friendly business environment conducive to economic expansion and job growth. >> president clinton did indeed say on cnn that mitt romney had a sterling record at bain capital and he also said he was
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qualified to be president of the united states, and then he went on to say the next day or two that it would be calamitous for the united states if mitt romney were to become president because of the policies he is pushing for right now. >> well, i can tell you, wolf, that when the president came out and said that mitt romney's business career was sterling and i think he was speaking from the heart. at the end of the day bill clinton's a good democrat and he's endorsed the president and he'll be with the president and i think his voice and the voice of other leading democrats are significant in that they have signaled their unhappiness with the president's re-election strategy of attacking bain capital and attacking risk taking and profit and free enterprise. that's one of the reasons why governor romney thought it was important to go to st. louis and give a strong speech in defense of free enterprise. >> in the interview that we've just been airing with the former
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president bill clinton, he did say nice things about mitt romney on certain issues. he liked what he did on americare, for example, and he liked what then governor mitt romney did in massachusetts in promoting health care reform. listen to what clinton just said. >> the best thing he did when he was governor was get that health care bill that he's now renounced. >> he hasn't renounced his health care bill. he's renounced the president's health care bill. >> yea, with the same idea. when you look at it, that's splitting a pretty thin hair. >> all right. hold on for one moment. i want to take a quick break. i want you to think about what we just heard, eric, from the former president. we'll get your reaction to that and much more right after this. this is $100,000.
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conversation with eric fernstrom, senior adviser to the romney campaign. you just heard the former president bill clinton say he liked what governor romney did in massachusetts as governor in promoting health care reform and it's basically the same thing that president obama did in promoting health care reform for the nation. >> well, wolf, what we did or what governor romney did in massachusetts represented a state solution to a state problem. under our federalist system we encourage states to experiment to come up with solutions to the unique problems that they face, but what works in massachusetts doesn't necessarily work in texas or california. what president obama did by imposing a one size fits all health care solution out of washington on the entire country was wrong and that's why governor romney has pledged from day one on his administration if elected, to repeal obama care and higher taxes and the $1
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billion entitlement and the intrusion to come up with solutions to their own problems. you also heard president clinton really express his frustration and irritation that mitt romney and other top republicans have not condemned congressman alan west for saying flatly that there are 78 to 81 members of the communist party among the house democrats. why is romney silent on that? >> well, that's not a point of view shared by governor romney. i can tell you that. look, this election isn't about what alan west said. this election is about 23 million americans who are out of work or underemployed and they're working for a president that has the right policies and the right qualifications and experience to lead on the number one issue facing us which is jobs and the economy. you saw what happened in wisconsin, that was first and foremost, a vote of confidence
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in scott walker's leadership as governor, but what scott walker in wisconsin was to take on big issues and as a result of doing that successfully, he's got the economy moving in the right direction. when governor romney said that elections, co along the border of wisconsin which means americans are looking for that same leadership on the economy and washington. >> because bill clinton says what alan west is saying about these democrats and that they're communists, these are echos from joe mccarthy from the '50s and he would hope that mitt romney would flatly condemn these, and do you think the presidential nominee is able to do so? >> well, yea. our focus is on the rom. >> campaign is, any like a laser and that's what coverageled him to get into the race to begin with, he doesn't agree with the
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sentiment expressed by alan west and we're not going to get bogged down by what other people are saying. we'll focus on jobs and the economy. the people are starved for the type of leadership that mitt romney can bring to washington. by the way, it's the same leadership that scott walker has brought to the state of wisconsin. >> eric fernstrom from the romney campaign. we'll continue this conversation down the road. thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. up next, we'll get the personal side of the former president bill clinton. >> i think she's a fine person, and most important thing to me. >> my name is taylor wilson and i'm an 18-year-old applied nuclear physicist. i became the youngest person in the world ever to produce
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nuclear fusion. at first the reaction i get from everybody even now is oh, you're just a kid. you can't do nuclear science and you don't know what you're talking about and i don't think it's too long after i start talking to them that, yea, maybe he can do these things. >> i think he's one of those people that will change the world in some way. we're sitting on a bunch of shale gas. there's natural gas under my town. it's a game changer. ♪ it means cleaner, cheaper american-made energy. but we've got to be careful how we get it. design the wells to be safe. thousands of jobs. use the most advanced technology to protect our water. billions in the economy. at chevron, if we can't do it right, we won't do it at all.
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we've got to think long term. we've got to think long term. ♪
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in russia, leaders today are making a bipartisan push to stop the leaking of classified information, lisa sylvester is monitoring that. also, some of the other top stories in the situation room right now. what do you have lisa? >> lawmakers on both sides of the i'll are condemning the leaks and may take legislative action to prevent them in the future. leaders agreed on the need for a full investigation but disagreed over the need for a special prosecutor. the fbi is investigating who leaked information about a classified u.s. cyberwarfare program the white house denies republican claims that it is behind the attacks. the morning show meltdown has a greek politician in some serious trouble. it started when the leader of a far right party threw a glass of water at another guest and then things took a violent turn. a political opponent tells him to get out and he goes after her reet edly slapping her in the face. a warrant has now been issued
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for his arrest. >> now, here is a way to fend off armed robbers. one of these would-be robbers flees. the canadian store owner spanks him. not starting as the robber starts to slide out of his pants. the owner's wife gets in on the action. kicking the robber. this guy was arrested. the partner is still on the loose. they picked the wrong star, wolf. that's all i can say. >> don't mess around with that guy or his wife for that matter. thanks very much, lisa. up next, we will have the final part of my interview with the former president, bill clinton. he speaks candidly about his daughter, chelsea. he also provides some new information about his own health and what he is eating.
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my one-on-one interview with the former president, bill clinton, wasn't all about politics and policy but a little bit about family, when we spoke about the president's daughter, chelsea, his face lit up with pride. >> let's talk about the clinton global initiative. this is an important meeting you
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are having. you do a lo of work around the world. now, you are doing work here in the united states. i was intrigued that chelsea, your daughter, she is here now too. what do you want her to do here? what is her role? >> well, first, she is an active producer in our foundation activity. she is on a number of the foundation boards overseeing health care. she is very interested in cgi. she knows a lot about the economy. she has done a lot of work in it. so we try to get her involved in all of our things. her role is always something to be discussed between her and our cgi staff. she knows ai lot about workforce preparedness. she knows a lot about saving companies in trouble and reopening them. >> i raise the question because i have known her since she was 13 years old when you guys came
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to washington. last night i was at the kennedy center at the vital voices event which helps women around the world. she made a presentation there and i looked at her and i saw in her eyes as i was watching her, she was very impressive. i saw the best of bill clinton and the best of hillary clinton in chelsea clinton. you have probably seen that as well. i wonder if you want to talk a little bit about that. >> oh, i'm really proud of her. i think she is a fine person, the most important thing to me, and she is smart, caring, able and determined. i think she is terrific. and i got a great son-in-law, which is always a good thing, to like your in-laws, you know.
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i want her to do whatever she wants to do but i am really grateful with the work she does on television and the work she does at nyu and the course she is teaching at columbia, she is still willing to be so active in our foundation activities. she really cares about this stuff. she has helped me do a lot of work at the foundation, try to improve the management and manage our massive growth. it is fun. i am grateful to her. >> she got the best of her mom, the best of her dad. >> she got her father's enj i and her mother's brains and character. she is something. >> we are out of time. how do you feel? >> great. as far as i know, i am doing fine. i really feel good. >> still on that diet? >> still on the diet. i am trying to make it as long as i can here. >> no meat, no chicken. >> no dairy. >> to dairy. i am trying to eat less white.
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>> what does that mean? >> no processed bread, fewer potatoes, less rice, fewer carbs that turn into sugar in your body. when you get older and particularly if you have had heart problems, you have got to be really sensitive to things you eat that not just sugar but that turn into sugar in your body, because this diabetes problem, people become more vulnerable to pry-diabetic conditions when they get older. now, because of childhood obesity, we have a lot of kids that are developing type ii diabetes. i try to exercise as much as i can with this crazy life i have got. i really try to watch the diet. it makes a difference. i'm having a good time in life. i would like to stay around a little longer. >> we would like to have you around for a little longer, a lot longer, i should say.
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>> you look great. you are thinner than i have seen you in a long time but you feel healthy. >> i feel great. >> i am glad you are doing what you are doing. >> thank you. >> mr. president, thanks very much. >> thank you, wolf. that's it for me. thanks very much for joining us. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." the news continues next on kr. nn. thanks, wolf. thanks for joining us. i'm jessica yellin, john king is off. tonight, the urgent search to find and stop whoever is leaking classified information about u.s. drone attacks and more. one law maker says it is getting to the point where other nations won't trust the u.s. to keep a secret. also, an apology from of all people, former president, bill clinton. hear his explanation about why he regrets calling for extending all of the bush era tax cuts temporarily. a former head of the democratic party says, we are a nation of wusses. we will get ed rendell to explain.

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